Adventures with Tenzing, Crusoe and Clovis Weekend

Elizabeth brings the kids out for several weeks every summer, but usually it overlaps with Fourth of July or a family reunion with her family around that same time of year. Since we're usually in Cincinnati, it means we don't overlap with them much but this year we planned a bit better so we had a few days blocked out for adventures with Tenzing and Crusoe before all heading out to Clovis for their last week in town.

On Monday, we met my parents and the kids over at Adventure Playground in Berkeley. All three boys especially had fun running around and building stuff with Papa. Coco and Tenzing did okay too but the boys are all at such a perfect age for it.

After the playground, we went to Fat Apples for our favorite olliberry shakes, even Papa had one.

On Tuesday, William had is allergy appointment in Redwood City so we didn't get to see the kids until the afternoon, but my brother brought them in, we played at home for a bit and then went out to the park before coming home for pizza for dinner. T&C got to spend the night since we were headed up to Muir Woods the next morning.

Papa came in and we all drove over to Marin. We lucked out to a sunny day, even in the morning, which is typically unheard of in summer. We had a nice hike around, then stopped at Muir Beach for lunch and playing in the sand. The kids all had a blast, it was such a nice day!

They were headed out to Clovis on Thursday, but we didn't drive out until Friday so we overlapped with my brother for just an hour or so, but the kids and Liz were there all weekend. My sister found us an awesome Airbnb that was just a couple blocks from her house so it as perfect to have our own space at night. The kids had so much fun seeing their cousins and swimming and running around outside. It was soooo hot but being in the pool kept things manageable. The kids got to ride on one of my sister's horses which they all loved.

Again this year, we went to the farm where my sister does some work; the kids always love the tractor and feeding the animals.

Dave grilled his ribs on Friday night, so many racks! I made a big spread of breakfast casseroles for Saturday morning and then Kenny grilled the meat and we had a big taco bar on Saturday. Now it's great because we have a shopping list and menu plan so we can rinse and repeat for future years. We're so lucky that the big cousins came too -- Kyle and Justin weren't really into it and didn't want to miss their sports practices but in the end came, and were great sports, so good with all the kids. It's been so great to see all our family this summer.

George's Special Day

A few days after William's special day, George got his turn. At first it looked like what I was afraid of was going to happen, George wanted to do all the same stuff I did with William. If that's really what he wanted then fine, but I find it so surprising that they have that much trouble coming up with something they want to do. Maybe it's just too broad, but I think if I had that option I would've asked to go to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, or lunch in the city and the American Girl store (not that there was one) or something like that. Both boys had trouble figuring out what they wanted to do, so eventually I had to give them some ideas.

George was set on going to Zazie for breakfast like William did and after I threw out a couple of ideas, he seemed interested in going to the Lawrence Hall of Science over at UC Berkeley. I had a call I had to be home for at 2pm that day, so unfortunately our time was a little limited and I told him we'd have to check traffic after breakfast to see if we'd have enough time over there before needing to get home. Luckily it all worked out, George ordered TWO massive lemon ricotta pancakes (I only got one bite), with a side of eggs and bacon and hot chocolate for his drink. I kid you not, he told me he was hungry when we were in the car before getting to the museum. I'm not sure how that would be possible though...

The museum was fun and had some cool exhibits but George didn't settle into anything and mostly bounced around from one thing to the next. We were approached by some grad students for George to participate in a research study and I left the decision up to him and he agreed to do it. It took about 20 minutes and was showing him different pictures of things like music, sewing, cooking, running and asking him which things could be math. He got to pick an animal sticker at the end, which I think is how they sold him on doing it, and he was happy about that. I asked him afterwards what he thought of the 'game' and he said it was okay.

We were able to watch most of Rescue Dogs (or something like that) in their movie theater and he really liked that. It was a bit of a rush home but we still had enough time to do what we wanted to that day.

A day with George is so different. He fully takes advantage of having all the attention and talks pretty much the whole time, asks questions and holds your hand every chance he gets. It was such a fun day with you George!

William's Special Day

One of the traditions we started last summer that I'm so glad we got to continue this summer is that each boy gets one day just with Mom to do whatever (within reason) he chooses. We're lucky that all three kids could go to Parks Plus Creation camp this summer, in the same group, and that they offer T/TH or M/W/F (or M-F) so I signed up for a combo and Coco went all 5 days, and the boys each got one day alone with me while the others were at camp.

William got to go first this year and we were still deciding at the last minute what to do. Last year we saw the Incredibles in the theater as the main event which he loved, and he wanted to see Toy Story 3 but it gets tough if the activity is something we'd all want to do together, or in this case we wanted to save that for Cincinnati. Things like going to the Fair are out too, as if one did it, then the other would just want to repeat so I did try to steer him to an activity in the city, or a museum, park, etc.

Finally he decided that he wanted to go straight to Clay St. Park after dropping the others off, and he wanted to play basketball together, so that's what we did. We spent a good hour there and I definitely got my workout in and even found my sweet spot on the court. After the park, he was hungry so I asked him what he wanted -- pancakes, French toast, waffles etc -- he decided on pancakes so when I searched  for 'best pancakes in SF', one of my favorites, Zazie, showed up at the top. Dave and I have gone for dinner several times and I had been once for breakfast midweek with my brother right before Colette was born, but it's one of those places you could wait easily over an hour for a table on a weekend, so obviously we never attempt with kids. William was excited to try it and I was thankful when we were able to walk up and sit down right away at an outdoor table. William ordered the classic Dave breakfast - eggs, bacon and a pancake and then a special sparkling lemonade drink. He was so proud of how much he ate (and I was pretty surprised myself!). I had a croque madame with salad and one of their pancakes on special for that day, lemon ricotta -- so good!

I brought Harry Potter and we read while waiting for the food, then talked about what to do next. He decided he wanted to go rent a paddle boat at Stowe Lake. After paddling around, he asked to hike a bit so we walked up to Strawberry Hill and he had so much fun climbing on the rocks all around the waterfall.

William is so funny, he plays it so cool, and even when he has this special day with just me, he's pretty quiet, almost quieter than normal. I knew he was having fun, but as I tried to ask him different things or get conversations going, sometimes you do wonder, but as I talked to Dave about it later that night, he agreed that that's how he is. He'll talk about that day all week and you can see how much it means to him but won't let on much about his excitement at the time. I'm so glad I got that day with you William!

Annual Cincinnati Trip

We always love our time in Cincinnati and the kids look forward to it so much. This year was a little different since Coco didn't need to take a nap each day, it gave us most flexibility to not have to rush out to start the day. She also stuck close to California time, which helped. The kids were all going to bed around 10pm, or even later, but while the boys eventually started waking up a bit earlier, Coco did well sleeping until 9am most days.

Another way this trip was different was the boys are at a great age to give a little freedom, at least in a safe neighborhood like Ravenwood. They made friends with the neighbors out back, who they played with a few times last summer, but really hit it off with this year. The few houses next to Linda's don't have fences up so it was basically a big flat playing field and the kids played soccer, baseball, tag and did water fights all day long. There was a family with a 3-year-old girl, 6- and 8-year old boys and a 10-year old girl. The mom kept saying what a treat it was to have friends to play with the in the backyard. One day we didn't even leave the house as the kids were having so much fun with the neighbors, even Coco went to play at their house for a couple of hours!

There was also a house a few doors down out front who has a 3-year old girl and a 6-year old boy, and they had another 6-year old boy visiting, so the kids had fun riding bikes, and their power wheel, and playing basketball with them. I always like going on adventures and there's lots of fun stuff to do in Cincinnati but it was nice to have the kids entertain themselves with friends and I even got through a book or two :)

We flew out on Frontier this year as it was the only direct non-red-eye. It was rough landing at 1am, and then again leaving for the airport at 5:45am but overall Frontier was fine.

We had lots of fun going to Ma's Rec Center to swim at the pool and go down the waterslides and the diving board. Linda was able to get bikes from her neighbor again this year so they liked to ride their bikes over there, and Coco brought her scooter and really got the hang of it finally.

Zach was at boy scout camp most of our visit but we spent lots of time with Lori and Lizzy. The kids always love spending the night at her house when Dave and I stay downtown for our anniversary. We had another great dinner at Jeff Ruby's. They decorated their bike's and rode in Lizzy's neighborhood parade before Dave and I picked them up and we hung at Ma's house until the fireworks. Coco went to Ma's parade and loved riding in the parade on her scooter.

This year, Ma took each kid on their own special day. She booked a painting class for William and they both painted robots.

George got a behind-the-scenes day at the zoo which is right up his alley.

Coco ended up getting two special days with Ma since she stayed with her while the boys were at Lori's, another again when we took the kids canoeing. They went on a grocery run with Grandpa Gary one day had fun at the zoo together another. The kids each loved their special time with Ma, each doing something they love doing.

We visited the new children's museum downtown which had lots of fun activities and exhibits for the kids. We also stopped in the Natural History Museum right there as you get admission to all the museums. Coco and William also loved the Art Museum, especially the kids room which had dress up costumes and lots of different crafts.

We had fun checking out Zach and Lizzy's school carnival -- the rat game was a new one the kids loved!

Another day we tried to go to a farm with Lizzy and Lori, but it turned out to be closed. We still played around a bit and I think we were all ready for the splash pad anyway as it was so hot. Then we rented a pontoon boat to take around a bit. The kids always love going on a boat!

The highlight of our trip last summer for the boys was the canoe trip. They each wrote about it at school this past year. We knew we had to do it again and despite a slight break in the castle when we waited out the lightening and rain, it was another really fun day.

We stopped at all our favorite spots -Skyline, UDF for ice cream, Graeter's, Quatman's and Montgomery Inn. And really, all the time at home with Ma is always the best.

Such a great trip!

Notes from Ma:
What a fun summer celebration in Cincinnati!  
So many activities but the most fun was playing with all our new friends at Ma's house.  Playing basketball and driving the Jeep at Ryder's house was so much fun!  We even asked Mr. Bopst to move his car and he actually told you how to lower the hoop so you could dunk the ball!  So much fun!  Playing on the swing in Dr. Goddard's yard and playing soccer in Mr. Don's yard was the highlight of the visit!  Ma's yard was the water yard for throwing water balloons and playing with the hose and playing with the GI Joe's in the little pool. It was a great way to cool off.  Riding bikes was vey exciting too...thanks to Mr. Mike we had bikes to use all week and even decorated them for the parades.  Coco decorated her scooter for the Ravenwood Parade and went so fast Ma couldn't keep up with her!  She loved playing on the tire swing at the park - swinging soooo high with her red skirt flying in the breeze!

Running around with your buddies, Tevi, Ella, Tova and Nesi, was super.  They even asked me when you will be back - they really miss you and had so much fun playing soccer and all the other games and activities this week!

We had quiet times too...watched some shows because it was so hot outside and it was great just to cool off and rest for a while.  We played a few games, played with the Kinetic Sand and Play Doh, and of course Legos.  Grandpa Gary loves to play Connect Four with you.  All in all, it was really fun to meet new friends, have ice cream parties, catch lightning bugs, pop firecrackers, light sparklers, and ride bikes.  

George - we had a fun adventure at the zoo.  We went Behind the Scenes to visit with the wallabies , Tom, Don, Adams and Jazz.  Feeding them lettuce was fun but you found out their favorite snack was apples.  By visiting the wallabies we help support the conservation of wallabies in the wild.  Saving animals and their habitat is always important!  Then we saw your favorite, the hippos, Bibi and Fionna.  Bibi, the mom, a came right up to the window to see you.  It was awesome.  I had so much fun with you on our special day!  You know so much about animals and their habitats...I was impressed.  Keep reading and studying about animals like the Hornet and the Wasp!  Thanks for sharing all you stories with Ma!  I love you George!  Thanks for visiting Cincinnati!

William - our fun adventure was a painting class at Cheers to Art!  You are such a talented artist and it was so much fun to spend the day with you.  We painted , mixed the colors on our pallet, had snacks and looked at all the other art work in the studio.  Then we met the family at Sharon Woods park to play in the creek!  What a great day!  I also enjoyed reading with you.  You are such a wonderful reader , sounding out works correctly and comprehending the story so you could retell it to Ma.  And you are a super basketball player.  Grandpa Gary and I had fun playing PIG with you in the neighbor's driveway.  You are so much better than us...but it was fun to spend time with you and watch you shoot! Thanks for sharing you adventures with us.  I love you William!   Thanks for visiting Cincinnati!

Colette - you are a sweetheart!  Ma loves watching you run and play with you friends in the yard.  Your smile can light up the room and brighten everyone's day!  Our special day was a hot day at the zoo!  We saw your favorite, the giraffes, and the hippopotomus and the zebras and the manatees.  We had to stop for a cold drink and a pizza slice...that hot weather just makes you so hungry and thirsty!  We also played Barbie in the basement one day and you loved playing with the hose and watering Ma's flowers.  You are such a good helper and it is so much fun to share your stories! Thanks for being such a cute princess! I love you Collette!  Thanks for coming to Cincinnati!